block scheduling vs. traditional schedule

sleeperbluesSeptember 8, 2004

Does anyone out there have any experience with the block scheduling system, where student have four 84 minute classes per school day, and certain classes are half block, like PE, band and choir? My kids attend a small school with less than 500 students K-12 and 7-12 use the full block system, which is rife with problems. For example, last year when my son was in grade 7 he had math the first half of the year, and this year will not have math until the last half of the year. Meanwhile, the class will take the standardized state testing in November, and I can't beleive these kids are going to remember math from a year ago. Our math scores are in need of improvement (a school board goal, in fact) but with scheduling like this there will be no way to improve. I know I certainly can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, so how are we expecting these kids to remember complex math facts from a year ago. Part of the problem is the school prinicpal is very autocratic and insists this schedule works, despite much parental disagreement. The school board seems unwilling to "micromanage" and we as parents are at our wits end. There are many other problems with the block schedule system besides just math, but I'd be typing forever to state them all. Can anyone help with this? Thanks.

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Our high schools do a different type of block scheduling. They have 6 period days that they work with. On every other day they take the even numbrred classes for 2 hours each, and the other days they take the odd numbered classes for 2 hours. Some of our high schools conduct the 6 classes one day a week, and others do not. The day of all 6 classes is also the day that any minimum days occur and all special assemblies, etc. That way all of their classes experience a reduced period and the teachers can keep their various classes on schedule together if they so choose. It works quite nicely, though some teachers had to really re-think how they teach for a 2 hour class.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2004 at 2:36AM
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Sheilajoyce, thanks for the info. I'm not sure I understand. Does that mean the kids take 6 classes for the whole year, and alternate 3 classes per day? If so, I can see the advantages of that. My problem is with the lack of continuity in scheduling. For instance, the math I mentioned above, but foreign language also suffers. The only foreign language offered is Spanish (really small school) and it has happened that a student will take Spanish 1 freshman year, and cannot schedule Spanish 2 til junior or senior year. It's a waste of time, since they don't remember anything from Spanish 1, yet need 2 years of foreign language for college. There has got to be a better way. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 3:25PM
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Yes, 6 classes for the whole year in 2 semesters. Usually the same classes each semester, though we have some kids take a class only one semester: marching band, photography, mostly electives. So, they do not have big gaps between taking the first year of something and then the second year. They just alternate so that they have 6 hours of class daily-- only 3 classes of 2 hours each. Those 2 hour classes are great for classes that require time to set up for instruction such as home ec classes like foods or clothing construction, drama, auto shop, science labs, video production, orchestra and band, computer lab, art classes of all kinds, PE. Typing/key boarding teachers had to change their instruction mode because 2 hours straight of typing practice was too much for those fingers. The advanced maths also had to rethink how they teach--classes like calculus, statistics and even AlgebraII/Trig. I think they ended up letting them start their math homework in class where the teacher could tutor them if they got stuck. One great health side effect is that the students do not have to carry around 5 or 6 heavy books every day. Also, we had less wandering in the halls as they had fewer passing periods and trips to their lockers with two morning classes, lunch and then their last class. Students who had orthodontist or other doctor appointments could pick the day of the week for their appointment to avoid missing the same class all the time. We also have zero period classes, and a student elects to take a zero period class, usually upper classmen only. Those classes meet the hour before school starts every day. Our high schools are big and this is one way we increase space by how we use the buildings.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 4:46PM
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As a teacher, I found the block system poorly conceived regarding education. They have classes just twice a year, as mentioned above, so they do not get to practice the skills they learn.

Also, the long blocks made the teachers cut lessons into 20 minute blocks. I found, by 11th grade, the kids lacked the ability to participate in a 45-60 minute lesson because they never had to. They needed diversions.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 9:27AM
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I am a student and I have been in contact with both Block and normal scheduling throughout my ms and hs career. My current year of schooling has made the decision for me on which scheduling is greater.

Block scheduling is far superior to normal scheduling, and I will tell you why. Block scheduling enables students to have only 4 classes a semester, and that is the key to block's victory over normal. Only 4 classes a semester enables a student to focus on those distinct classes, which greatens the chance for higher grades in each class because there are only 4 instead of 6 or 7. This also enables teachers to teach longer and allows time for activities and hands-on stuff. Without block scheduling every single class is monotonous note taking for an hour then go to next class. My homework is literally just to learn the material because teachers under normal scheduling do not have enough time to truly TEACH the material.

Normal scheduling is what I am under currently, and it is the reason for many problems within the student body. Grades are not as high because of it, and it is just plain boring to have 6 classes a day. Block scheduling is better because students can learn more easier which is really all that is important anyway.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2005 at 7:48PM
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